Like any coach worth his salt, Dallas Mavericks coach Jason Kidd would like for his team to be more productive in putting up points in the first quarter. And in defending better in the opening quarter.
After losing the first quarter in three straight games against Oklahoma City (27-25), Orlando 34-29) and Utah (35-23), the Mavs outscored Toronto, 31-29, in the first quarter last Friday en route to upending the Raptors, 111-110.
“Just getting off to a better start and not being down 10 or 12, and that next group trying to fight to get it within four or five,” Kidd said is the workable game plan he relishes. “You look at different combinations that we’ve been playing.
“Again, quarters one through three were really good and quarter four we’re awful. We have to get off to better starts. But the biggest question for us is to get better in the fourth quarter, and those are things that we talked about today.”
So, why are the Mavs’ fourth quarters not up to par?
“It could be a lot of reasons,” Kidd said. “Offensively leads to bad shots, defensively not stopping anything.
“And those first six minutes are without Luka, so I think as a whole we have to do better at the beginning of the fourth (quarter) to stop the team’s runs. We’ve had the lead in all eight (games), so we just got to do better.”
FINNEY-SMITH, KIDD AND THE RAPID FIRE DRILL: At the end of Sunday’s practice, coach Jason Kidd was hoisting up one mid-range jumper after another in rapid-like fashion.
The drill is called the Rapid Fire drill, and the science behind it is the get up as many shots as possible in one minute.
“You don’t think about making them,” Kidd said. “You just think about the attempts. You’ve worked on the fundamentals.
“It’s just your ability to do things quick without letting your brain get in the way of trying to be perfect every time. It was a game to see if you could get 40 attempts. It’s hard to get 40 attempts up in that minute.”
With two days with no games between last Friday’s 111-110 win over the Toronto Raptors and Monday’s 8:45 p.m. tipoff time against the Brooklyn Nets at American Airlines Center, the Mavs decided to have some fun at the conclusion of Sunday’s practice.
Kidd loves the drill, saying, “It’s just like a carnival game. For me the basket was moving. It’s a great drill. “I think Timmie (Hardaway Jr.) was 29-of-39.
“To be able to get 40 attempts, you can’t think. There’s a routine and rhythm to it, too. That decided the thought process of doing a drill like that.”
Forward Dorian Finney-Smith is not a fan of Rapid Fire, which he said was introduced last year by assistant coach Sean Sweeney and forward Reggie Bullock.
“Everybody saying their arms are tired,” Finney-Smith said. “I don’t like that drill. Me and Reggie used to do it last year. That’s Reggie and Sweeney’s thing right there.
“See, my problem is I want to make them, and Reggie is good with those attempts. He’s got a quick shot. I’m too busy focusing on my makes. You can’t really look at the ball. You’re just throwing them up.”
Kidd isn’t sure how many shots he converted, but he knows one thing for sure.
“I got a cardio in today,” he said. “I think the guys liked it more than I did. I’ll be breathing (hard) until tomorrow. I was just trying to get the rebounders to catch the air balls and the ones that were ricochets to see if I could get another one up there fast, but we’ll work on it.
“I just wanted to see how it felt to do that. It hurts.”
DONCIC IS PLAYING CHESS: It’s no secret that superstar point guard Luka Doncic is often playing a different brand of basketball than his opponents.
Perhaps that’s why it’s become increasingly difficult for defenders to slow him down.
Case in point, when the Toronto Raptors appeared to have Doncic bottled up last Friday night, the fifth year court just dribbled cross court and effectively tossed in a baby hook shot, ala Karen Abdul-Jabbar style.
“I like the baby hook that he had,” coach Jason Kidd said. “That’s better than the one-leggers, because we haven’t really seen that one.
“But that was beautiful, and naturally only he can make it look so easy. He’s in a different place right now, which is cool to watch.”
Doncic has scored at least 30 points in all eight games this season for the Mavs. The only player with more is Wilt Chamberlain, who started the 1962-63 season by scoring 30 or more points in his first 23 games.
On Doncic’s short one-legged fadeaway jumper that he has perfected this season, Kidd acknowledged that he practices those particular shots. “When you look at his comfort level with those shots,” Kidd said, “those aren’t anything that he just came up with.”
And when Doncic is attacking the player who switches onto him on defense, Kidd said: “He’s just understanding whose guarding him. He’s playing chess. He knows what shot he can get. . .and then it’s just a matter of him being able to finish it.”
LOTS OF TEACHING AND COACHING: When it comes to getting the new players indoctrinated to his way of playing, coach Jason Kidd used a football analogy.
“It’s been a lot of teaching and coaching with the coaches-to-player and player-to-player,” Kidd said. “We don’t have the luxury of football — offensive team and defensive team. The game is moving, so a lot of time we’re coaching on the move trying to help the new guys receive the information.
“Also, the new guys being able to talk to the guys who have been here. There’s always a game of give and take, a listening period, a feeling out period that we want to have to understand how one receives the information and how one gives the information. It’s early, and I think the new guys are doing a really good job.”
As it pertains to new center Christian Wood, Kidd said: “We talk about the skill set that we all know. He can score the ball.
“But for him it’s being on the defensive side of the ball and being out there with that group that can help him with that so that he can play longer.”
KIDD HAPPY FOR DUSTY BAKER: Count Mavs coach Jason Kidd among those who are extremely happy that Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker was finally able to win a World Series as a manager.
The Astros defeated the Philadelphia Phillies, 4-1, on Saturday night to clinch that best-of-seven series in six games and win the World Series. Baker, 73, also won a World Series as a player with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1981, but he was in his 25th year before finally winning it all as a manager
“It’s great that Dusty got that championship,” Kidd said. “But no matter what, the impact that he’s had on the game as a player and as a manager is incredible.
“I think he’ll probably have to go down as a Hall of Fame manager, too, not just a Hall of Fame baseball player. But I’m happy for Dusty and what he accomplished with the Astros last night.”
Baker’s 2,093 regular season wins are the most at the time of a manager’s first title in Major League Baseball history.
HARDY GOES WILD IN THE G LEAGUE: The Mavs recalled rookie guard Jaden Hardy from the G League on Sunday.
In his two road games with the Texas Legends against the Austin Spurs on Friday and Saturday, Hardy averaged 28 points, shot 50 percent from the field (18-of-36), 42.1 percent from three-point range (8-of-19), and also average four rebounds and 4.5 assists.
Hardy tallied 23 points Friday and 33 points Saturday, and was back at the Mavs’ practice facilities Sunday.
“He’s playing well,” coach Jason Kidd said. “He’s doing everything we asked him to do, so he had a great showing down with the Texans.”
Asked what specifically was he looking for from Hardy under Legends coach George Galanopoulos, Kidd said: “Being a pro, executing the game plan that coach G is putting in, playing both sides of the ball. So, so far so good.”
BRIEFLY: Over to the side near midcourt of the Mavs’ practice facility is a basket with chain nets. How did they get there? “Coach them bought the chain,” forward Dorian Finney-Smith said. “We all talk about playing basketball outside. I just turned that goal into the outside goal, because when I first got here (in 2016) when I was a rookie I could never get the good goal. So I was like, you know what – I just call it the hood — this is the hood right here, man. Don’t nobody want to come to this goal, and I’m going to turn this goal into that spot where everybody will want to go to. When they put the chains on it, now everybody is trying to shoot there. Y’all grew up playing outside, so they wanted to bring that outside feel here. Now Luka (Doncic) is playing on it, and that’s his spot. It’s still fun.”. .The Nets (4-6) come in Monday riding a season-high two-game winning streak. In fact, the Nets are 2-1 since management and Steve Nash mutual agreed last Tuesday that he would no longer be the team’s coach. The job was then awarded to Jacque Vaughn on an interim basis. Since Vaughn took over, the Nets lost at home to Chicago (108-99) last Tuesday, then went on the road and defeated Washington (128-86) and Charlotte (98-94) on Friday and Saturday, respectively. The Nets, in fact, trailed Charlotte, 87-75, with just 6:30 remaining in the game before rallying for the victory. “They’re playing well,” said coach Jason Kidd, whose team is 5-3 and riding a three-game winning streak. “Jacque put them in a position to be successful.”
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